Wow, the Liz dress from Gertie’s Charm Patterns was certainly a wild ride!
I absolutely adore this dress, but was very nervous about how it might like look on a body with a low bust line and a high waist. Not to mention I need support as I’m yet to find a truly supportive strapless bra! I shouldn’t have been concerned, like all Gertie patterns it is very flattering and structured.
The fabric is the BEST shade of yellow, and its actually a Spoonflower fabric. The design is Midcentury Tikis by my favourite designer Michael Uhlenkott, and the base fabric is Organic Cotton Sateen. I bought 4 yards, which was enough for the dress and a bolero (when I get the energy to make one).
(You might remember the Hawaiian Hostess outfit I made last year, also using fabric designed by Michael)
One thing I can say is take the time to make some test versions to check your fit – I spent a whole day making four tests before I was satisfied with the fit.
Test version 1 – cut a size smaller
Based on my measurements I should be a 12B, but the fit was too loose all over, even the cups. This design is meant to be very fitted, so I went down to a 10B and the fit was improved but now I had a lot of wrinkles across the front midriff.
Test version 2 – lower the bust line
Reading Gertie’s instructions, she says the line under the front of the bust needs to literally be under your bust. Mine wasn’t! I had excess fabric I could pinch out just under my bust so I removed it (similar to the image below but smoother). At this stage the straps were also too large and fell off my shoulders so I didn’t worry about adjusting the length of the straps to compensate.
Test version 3 – fix the midriff wrinkles
Ok so now the bust line was properly underneath my bust and the straps didn’t fall off my shoulders (hurrah!) but I still had some stomach wrinkles. I cut the midriff higher at the front waist to compensate and tapered to the side seams. The back was fine thankfully.
I also noticed that it was a smidge to tight in the waist so added 1/2 of an inch to each side seam.
Test version 4 – fix the shoulder line, check all the fit.
Looking in the mirror, I could see the seam on the shoulder straps were pulled forward and not actually sitting on the centre of my shoulder.
I added half an inch to the front strap, and took away half an inch from the back strap length to centre them up properly. Bingo!
Because the fabric is directional, I went for a gathered dirndl skirt using two panels of the fabric, but had to have a centre front and back seam to allow for the zip at the back.
I very carefully pattern matched the front and back skirt panels so you’d never know!
I also made a seam-less inserted pocked in the side because we all need more pockets in our life. If you’ve never made one before I have a tutorial here on Instagram.
What would I change next time?
One thing I would change next time is not to use such thick underlining. I only had medium-thick weight interfacing on hand, and it meant at one time I was sewing through 8 or 9 thick layers.
Next time I would definitely use the thicker stuff to line the cups and front midriff, and thinner interfacing for the rest.
For those who are curvier (like me) and have lumps and bumps, don’t skip the underlining – it helps smooth the curves out. You’ll also probably need a strapless bra for this dress as the shoulders are set so far apart.
I never have much luck in the strapless bra department, and while I love the look of the Goddess Adelaide basque Gertie recommends, I struggle to get longline bras to fit without trying on.
I ended up buying a Curvy Kate Luxe bra online – and yeah, it’s definitely better than other strapless bras I own but it’s still not the wonder bra I had hoped for (which probably doesn’t exist haha).
Overall – I love it!
I already have another version in mind with a sarong skirt, but as this dress took me three days from start to finish I think I need a little rest for the moment.